Sheep graze. They keep their noses to the ground and mow the lawn. Goats browse. They like nothing better than tall plants to reach up to. They like vines and spiky things, rough twigs and fragrant herbs. In less than a week here at Little Pond Farm, they ate every last bit of the mint. I knew my mint bed was a goner when we fenced the goat paddock. I didn’t realize, though, how quickly and thoroughly they’d decimate it.
So, today, I decided to take Pip and Caper out for their first foray into the back “meadow” (not a real meadow – it’s really the septic mound!) My son and I hooked on some leashes. I don’t want to drag them around, so I have also started clicker training them. Note the red treat bag at my waist. But, since they are NOT trained yet, there was sort of a Keystone Cops quality to our meander in the meadow.
Pip and Caper went this way and that. Nibbled and tasted. On the way back to their paddock, they stopped to browse.
This is why you need to have good fences for your goats. If they get into the garden or out on the lawn, they’ll make a bee-line for your crops and your fancy flowers. Here, they’ve found my parsley. I grow a lot so that I have enough to feed Candy (it helps to keep her healthy.) I figured it’s probably good for the goats, too. But I’m not about to share my Thai basil.
Of course I’d heard that goats are “trouble.” They are escape artists. They like to investigate the world by chewing and tasting. They have energy. That’s part of the fun of having them around, right? I thought that I was prepared. The stall in the barn is sturdy and new. Here is my son reaching over the door to pet Caper. Looks secure, doesn’t it?
But, goats can leap like fleas. The boys quickly discovered that they could squeeze onto the ledge along the wall and launch themselves on top of the stall divider. Caper did it while Steve was working in the stall on the goatcam!
This is their springboard as seen from outside the stall.
Luckily we had some spare pegboard around. This is what Steve had to do to keep Pip and Caper in the stall. Notice that the manger was removed. A HenCam viewer suggested that it was a safety hazard. They now have their hay in an egg collecting basket.
While Steve was goat-proofing the stall, he also protected the goatcam camera.
I have a feeling that these are just the first of many quick adjustments we’ll have to make to keep Pip and Caper safe at home.
The boys have now been introduced to the animal crew here at Little Pond Farm. Candy hopped over to the fence to say hello. Pip and Caper looked as if they had a long conversation with her. The boys also like watching the chickens. The dogs have sniffed noses with the goats and those interactions have been amiable. I have a feeling that once I’m satisfied that Lily won’t chase the goats, and give her more leeway, that she and the boys will figure out their own way to play.
Steve, my crack IT guy, is hard at work installing the camera, making it goat-proof (not easy!) and dealing with software issues to get the goatcam up and running.
Until then, here’s a picture for you.
Pip and Caper, eight-week old Mini-Nigerian Dairy Goats, arrived yesterday. Marty drove them down from Village Haven Farm in northern Maine. They settled right into their new stall. Perky, curious and totally adorable. I sat down with them.
Caper is getting a scratch on the neck. He likes that. He’s the more forward of the two. Pip, the one with the caramel splotches, is a tad shyer. But I think he’s going to be the one who gets into more mischief!
Give goats a shelf, a ledge, a manger to squeeze into, and they will.
Caper is checking out the goatcam.com camera. It should be working in a few days.
Meanwhile, I am training Lily Dog to be calm around the goats. This involves patience, lots of little hot dog pieces, and a training tool called a clicker. And, I’m spending a lot of time sitting in the stall with the boys. Wouldn’t you?
Commercial egg producers like to say that eggs are all the same, regardless of the hens’ housing. However, egg producers also recognize that some eggs sell for a premium. Eggland’s best came up with feeding additives to change the fatty acid content of their eggs. Eggs labeled “free-range” sell for more money. Pastured eggs sold at a farmer’s market often go for a couple of dollars more than a supermarket dozen.
The problem is, how to assure the consumer that their expensive eggs aren’t from a typical factory farm? Certainly, all eggs look the same, whether laid by a pastured hen or by one kept in a cage. A researcher in New Zealand has come up with a test to verify what type of housing an egg was laid in. It turns out that a pastured hen, eating a wide variety of food, produces a very different egg than the caged hen. A synopsis of the article can be read in this poultry industry on-line newsletter. Awhile back, Mother Earth News did it’s own analysis of pastured eggs and came up with similar results.
Those of us with backyard hens knew this already, but it’s nice to have scientific proof.